Salty, sour, pickley perfection is the best way to describe this Central American spicy cabbage slaw. Salvadoran Curtido is super simple to make with loads of flavor. It is typically eaten with pupusas, but you can use it to top tacos, as a condiment on sandwiches, or add it to any dish for some pickled goodness.
I have been fermenting and pickling things for years, but it wasn't until I started testing Salvadoran pupusa recipes that I discovered curtido! Sure, in many ways it is just another spicy cabbage slaw. But I fell in love with curtido for its ability to take pupusa eating to the next level.
Speaking of Salvadoran cuisine, you will find a curtido recipe in every Salvadoran family's cookbook. As much as pupusas are the National dish of El Salvador, curtido is the condiment that is a must have to accompany those delicious pupusas.
You only need a few ingredients to make Salvadoran curtido.
- White Onion
- White Vinegar
Like most slaws the main ingredient is cabbage. Carrots act as a natural sweetener, while the white onion and jalapeno add to the spiciness of the dish. Oregano, a popular herb in Latin America, is used to infuse the slaw with more flavor.
The salt and white vinegar do the job of pickling the curtido, which gives the slaw that delicious salty sour taste. And a pinch of sugar helps to balance out the tartness of the vinegar.
Curtido is traditionally made with white onions, but any type of onion will work. The same goes for the jalapenos in that you could easily use serranos in their place or any other chili you may have on hand or prefer.
How to Make Salvadoran Curtido
Curtido is really easy to make. In fact, it only takes just a few minutes to make, yet needs hours to marinate so that the cabbage and other ingredients pickle properly in the vinegar.
To begin the recipe, you pour hot water over the cabbage, carrots, onions, and jalapenos. You then let the mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes to soften up.
While you are waiting for the veggies, you will then mix the white vinegar, salt, oregano, and sugar in a small bowl until both the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Next, you drain the vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Then you pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mixture and toss it all together. Now, put the curtido in a jar or container with a lid and pour the remaining vinegar liquid into the jar. Finally, put the lid on the jar or container before you put it in the refrigerator to pickle.
You want to let the curtido marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours. For the best results, leave it in the fridge overnight. The longer the curtido sits the more balanced the flavors become. Curtido that is on day three is going to taste even better than curtido that is on day one.
To eat, serve with pupusas like they do in El Salvador! Curtido also goes great on tacos, burritos, sandwiches, and as condiment for bowls.
You should make this Salvadoran Curtido because it's ...
- Fantastic with vegan pupusas
- Hits the salty, sour spot
- Crisp and delicious
- Simple to make
- Keeps well in the fridge
I hope you love this Salvadoran Curtido recipe! It is one of my all time favorite pickled cabbage slaws from Central America.
If you try this recipe please let me know how it turns out by leaving a comment and rating. You can also hashtag #danceswithknives with a photo of your creation on Instagram where you can find me @dances_with_knives.
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Simple Salvadoran Curtido (Spicy Cabbage Slaw)
- 4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced (½ cabbage)
- 1 cup carrots, grated or julienned (2 carrots)
- ½ medium white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (add more or less for your desired level of spice)
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Cover the cabbage and carrots with about 4 cups of boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the onion and jalapeno to the cabbage mixture and allow it to sit for another 3 minutes in the hot water.
- Mix the vinegar, oregano, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Drain the cabbage mixture well and place it in a large bowl.
- Pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mixture. Toss well to evenly coat.
- Now, place the slaw into a jar or container with a lid. Pour all the remaining vinegar liquid over the cabbage mixture before sealing the lid of the jar or container.
- Put the jar in the fridge and let it sit for at least 4 hours before using. Overnight is best.
- Eat with pupusas and enjoy! You can also use it to top tacos or anything else you’d like some pickled yumminess.